LANDER Skateboards: A New, Uniquely Fun, and Sustainable way to skate
From Metal-Furniture Scrap to Recycled-Nylon Skateboard: Ryan Anderson, Founder of RAD Furniture in Los Angeles, welded together a skateboard from scrap perforated steel one day back in 2015. While difficult to make (and heavy to carry around), it was rather fun to ride, and never failed to attract the attention of passerby's, baristas, and others - most of whom insisted on trying it, and many of whom offered to buy it. The prototypes weren't for sale, but they made a splash everywhere we took them, especially amongst RAD's Architecture & Design clients, who recognized the inventiveness of the design.
People who had "never skateboarded before" wanted to try it, and former pro skaters said it was "cool looking and really fun to ride." With strong reactions from such a disparate cross-section of people, it became impossible to ignore the potential excitement for something new like this in the skate world. The problem became how to design it so that it could be easily made (and thereby reasonably priced), retain its unique ride (diagonal flex pattern due to the orientation of the holes) while remaining rigid (unlike other non-wood skateboards on the market), AND be sustainable - all the while being able to withstand the physical stress exerted by riders of all sizes and abilities!
After extensive research and development, we found that our design could be realized using Recycled Nylon (from old commercial fishing nets) and long-strand glass-fiber (for enhanced performance) via the very efficient (fast/no-waste) process of Injection Molding. We're very proud of the hard work that went into sourcing and testing Recycled materials for this product, and are happy to say that this achievement sets us apart from other injection molded products on the market.
One of RAD's Owners, Ruben Ruckman, formerly a technical designer for Frank Gehry & Partners, took the lead on 3D modeling the new board. It ended up being extremely challenging to get the structure and materiality just right, and many iterations of the mold were made. It took someone of Ruben's technical mastery to achieve the nuances in design necessary to make this product work.
We introduced a Beta version of the Lander board in September 2022, and to our surprise, it quickly caught the attention of people in the Skate Industry. We assumed we'd be shunned by the skate community for making something that looks so different, but the positive feedback continued to overwhelm, and before long, we'd attracted the attention of Paris Trucks, who became our Manufacturing & Distribution Partner in 2022. The Paris Team oversees production, and manages international distributor sales, domestic retail sales, and the D2C webstore. Paris also provides its trucks for our Completes, the quality of which sets us apart from our non-wood skateboard competitors.
After riding the Beta version, DJ Chavez, a former pro skater and now the owner of a successful skate shop in LA (Kingswell), had previously told us that we'd "certainly be successful with the product, but that he'd never carry it in his store", retracted his statement, and even became a Partner in Lander. He now serves as Head of Domestic Skate Shop Sales. While we're happy to sell boards directly, skate shops are the beating heart of the skateboard community, and therefore are central to our mission as a company: that is, in the service and celebration of the adventurous, sharing, and inclusive spirit of skateboarding.
A happy accident occurred during mid-prototype of the Beta version when we extruded thin rings around each hole to protect the edges of the grip tape, which we thought would keep it from tearing and peeling. Until then, the prototypes needed to include laser-cut grip tape, which was an expensive and time-consuming addition.
What we found with the updated prototype was that the raised treads provided precisely the grip we needed, and without adding cost, or the application of a secondary material which could fail over time. This was a HUGE win for the cost and quality of the product. We're happy to say that the resulting tread provides amazing traction, even in wet conditions, which is one of the main complaints by customers of our largest competitor's board.
A couple other unintended benefits came by virtue of the material itself: 1) the Waterproofness of Nylon. Unlike plywood decks which get waterlogged, swell and crack overtime due to exposure to water, or even just ambient moisture, our board can be forgotten outside in the rain, or even submerged in water. Of course one needs to dry, re-grease and eventually replace bearings from time to time.
And 2) the vibration-dampening of Nylon makes the Lander a great option for longer commutes and/or bumpy urban streets and sidewalks. This feature also makes for a smooth and quiet ride, which keeps the neighborhood dogs at bay - you're past them before they even notice you.
The main lesson retained over the years of developing this product was the value of Listening, Learning and Integrating - without preconception or ego. We Listened to peoples' first impressions that we were onto something worthy of our time and attention. We Listened to the critical feedback from skaters and our Partner that the design could be better. And we Listened to customers' feedback regarding competitor products.
We then worked hard to synthesize what we'd Learned and strategize how to Integrate it. We kept going, even when things got really difficult (with the motivating words of excited strangers rattling around in our heads). We re-designed the board alongside our new Partners (the Beta is no longer offered, in its place are 2 different models suitable for various riding needs, co-designed with former pro skaters). And we addressed the shortcomings of competitors products (namely lack of sustainability, sag/poor-ride performance, unsafe traction and sub-par quality of components).
In short, our ethos has become continuous improvement, mostly by incremental measurements, and every now and then, by a leap or a bound.